WASHINGTON (CNS) — The German bishops’ conference said when the bishops meet in September, they will continue to examine the issue of Communion for Protestant spouses of Catholics.
The bishops published an “Orientation Guide in the Responsibility of Individual Bishops” June 27. According to DomRadio, the official news site of the Diocese of Cologne, the guide is the same handout that the bishops’ conference developed in February, but with a changed title.
Although it is published, the document is not readily available for public viewing.
German bishops met with curial officials at the Vatican in early May and, afterward, Pope Francis asked them not to publish the guidelines.
Pope Francis clarified his position on the matter during a flight from Geneva to Rome June 21. He said the problem was not the subject matter of the debate, but rather the bishops’ approach to create new norms for the German Catholic Church at a national level.
He said the guidelines the bishops were attempting to create went beyond what is foreseen by the Code of Canon Law “and there is the problem.” The code does not provide for nationwide policies, he said, but “provides for the bishop of the diocese (to make a decision on each case), not the bishops’ conference.”
But the bishops said the text of their pastoral handout does “not appear as a document of the bishops’ conference, given that it also relates to a dimension of the universal church,” and that the text is “within the responsibility of individual bishops as an aid to orientation.”
Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, president of the German bishops’ conference, said there were several reasons why the bishops decided to move forward with their plans to address the matter as a national conference. He cited a May 25 letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which he said provided “indications and a framework for interpretation.”
The bishops said they were on a quest to achieve Christian unity and believe themselves “obliged to stride forward in this matter courageously.”
They cited their previous reasons for examining the issue and stated that the bishops are still intent on pursuing questions related to individual cases on a national level.
“We as bishops are concerned here with the question of the Protestant spouse in an interdenominational marriage receiving Communion,” they said in their statement.
“The topic is to be explored in greater detail. … We would like to offer the Holy Father and the Roman Curia our assistance in this matter,” the statement said.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103